My wife has always been good at producing tender fried chicken breasts, though they are, sometimes, nearly wide enough to fill the plate. I learned that her secret was a one-pound claw hammer. She puts it in a plastic bag, turns it sideways and wallops the piece of chicken until it looks more like a pancake than a chicken breast. Then, she rolls it in whatever batter and seasonings that she uses and fries it up. Invariably it’s both delicious and TENDER.
I asked her once, how she came to use this method. She told me that when she began cooking for her family, when she was a little kid, that she’d heard that pounding would tenderize chicken. However, she couldn’t find anything to use the first time she tried it. So, she got her father’s hammer from his toolbox, put it in a plastic bag (rare back then) and beat the daylights out of the chicken. Since it worked so well, she didn’t bother looking for any other tool from then on.
Over the years, she continued to use the same method wherever she went. She used her first husband’s hammer until he passed away. By the time I married her, she had her own little toolbox and her own hammer. It’s been well used over the last 33 years.
A couple months ago, she went into the kitchen store at the mall and picked up one of those handy-dandy little meat mallets that the cooks on TV use. I don’t like the fact that it’s aluminum, but I bite my tongue. The chicken that she makes now seems to look and taste as delicious as what she’s always made. Still, somehow, there seems to be something missing, just the tradition I guess. © 2016